Koch Brothers Eyeing Tribune Company Papers

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David Koch. Photo: Steven A Henry/2011 Steven A Henry

As has been rumored, the billionaire libertarians Charles and David Koch are thinking about buying the Tribune Company's eight regional newspapers, reports the New York Times. The papers up for sale include the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Hartford Courant, and the potential purchase is valued at roughly $623 million — chump change compared to Koch Industries' $115 billion annual revenue. According to several attendees of recent Koch brothers seminars about their ten-year strategy to "shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes," the two believe that moving into the mainstream media business is a good way to "make sure our voice is being heard." (Not, as one source insisted, as a way to "destroy the other side," though they are known for trying to do that.)

The brothers might face some competition in the form of another wealthy — but certainly not as wealthy — conservative, Rupert Murdoch, who has looked into the Tribune newspapers in the past. However, Murdoch is mostly interested in LA Times, and the Tribune Company would prefer to sell the entire package together. Other possible buyers — including liberal billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle — also seem to be primarily focused on the Times, which means that "the thinking inside the Tribune Company, the people close to the deal said, is that Koch Industries could prove the most appealing buyer."